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Act IV, Scene 4
Page, Ford, Mrs. Page, Mrs. Ford, and Sir Evans are in a room in Ford's house. The husbands have been told of the tricks played on Falstaff by their wives. Ford now apologizes to Mrs. Ford for having misconstrued her intentions and begs her forgiveness. Everyone agrees that more fun can be had at the rascal Falstaff's expense. The women propose that they seek another appointment with Falstaff, whom they will have to dress up as the mythical Herne the Hunter of Windsor Forest. Then, Anne Page, her brother William, and a few more youngsters will dress up as fairies and urchins, sing a song around Falstaff, and pinch him, asking why he is dressed in such a manner. Once Falstaff confesses the truth, the rest will emerge and mock him all the way home. Page, at the same time, privately arranges for Slender to elope with Anne Page. Mrs. Page, on the other hand, decides to call Caius to give him his chance to run away with her daughter.
Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford see the opportunity for more revenge and more merriment at Falstaff's expense. They will ask Falstaff to meet them in the forest, dressed as Herne, the Hunter, a fearsome, mythical character with great horns. An old myth describes Herne as the keeper of Windsor Forest, who takes midnight walks around the oak tree, casts spells on the livestock, and shakes a chain, which makes a frightening sound. The plan is to have Anne Page and the children, dressed like fairies, surprise Falstaff with their presence and frighten him into telling the truth about why he is in the forest and dressed in such a ridiculous manner.
While this plan is being discussed, Mrs. Page and Mr. Page have private thoughts of their own. Each is wishing to marry their daughter to a different person, and both see the forest meeting as the perfect time to arrange an elopement for Anne. Mrs. Page decides that Caius should carry Anne off from the forest; her husband decides it is the perfect time for Slender to steal away with Anne. Obviously, Shakespeare is preparing the audience for some humorous, confusing moments on stage.